Next on our list comes a player who has five-tool potential and is considered the best athlete in the Blue Jays’ entire minor league system…
#12: Jacob Marisnick
Outfielder / 19 years old / 6′4″ 200 lbs
Born: March 30, 1991
Bats: Right Throws: Right
High School: Riverside Poly H.S.
Drafted By: The Toronto Blue Jays in the 3rd round (104th overall) in the 2009 amateur entry draft
Jersey Number: #32 for the Lansing Lugnuts
- Would have gone to Oregon University if he had not come to an agreement with the Blue Jays
- Models his game after Los Angeles Angels center fielder Torii Hunter
- If he could meet anybody in baseball it would be Alex Rodriguez
- Would be playing football if he wasn’t playing baseball
- Represented by Reynolds Sports Management, the same agency that represents Torii Hunter
GCL Blue Jays Team Stats Ranking for Jake Marisnick (min. 4 GP):
- 1st in doubles (12) and stolen bases (14)
- Tied for 2nd in home runs (3)
- 3rd in total bases (56) and SLG (.459)
- Tied for 3rd in runs (17)
- 4th in hits (35), OBP (.373), AVG (.287), and OPS (.832)
- 6th in walks (13)
- 7th in games played (35), at-bats (122), and RBI (14)
A 2010 interview with Lansing Lugnuts announcer Jesse Goldberg-Strassler:
Extra information and previous experience:
One of the best pure athletes available in the 2009 draft, Jake Marisnick has five-tool potential and the capability to be something special in the outfield for the Jays.
Gifted with above-average speed, Marisnick can run the 60-yard dash in 6.7 seconds and get down to first base in 4.25 seconds, so he’s definitely a stolen base threat. He’s an instinctive and aggressive base runner who takes large leads and loves to pressure defenses.
His speed also helps him out defensively in center field, where he has above-average range in any direction. He’s an aggressive defender, and he isn’t afraid to dive or run into the outfield wall to make a catch. Complementing his above-average defensive skills is his powerful arm that releases quickly to make strong, accurate throws.
Marisnick describes theses tools as being the tools “you can’t take away and can’t teach.”
There is a divide among scouts about Marisnick’s potential at the plate, though. He has extremely fast hands with the bat, and some feel that it’s only a matter of time before he develops into an above-average hitter because his hands are too fast not to be able to hit. Others feel that Marisnick will struggle at the plate in the future, primarily due to his mechanics. The good news about this though, is that mechanical adjustments at the plate are a lot easier to teach than instincts, a plus arm, defense, and speed, all of which Marisnick already has.
Marisnick is well balanced throughout his swing because of his short, closed stride, but a weak hand position sabotaged his swing and prevented him from being able to drive the ball with authority when he was in his final year of high school. His large, athletic frame will help him develop above-average power, which some scouts feel will come in only a matter of time.
Baseball America offered a detailed look at Marisnick’s swing in an article while he was still in high school in early 2009, prior to the draft:
Marisnick begins with his hands held slightly away from his body. He then moves his hands back as he strides forward, nearly pinning his back elbow to his right ribcage . . . a big no-no. All this adds length and an unnecessary extra move to his backswing, and forces Marisnick to flick the bat downward at the ball. Typically, this produces topspin line drives, topped grounders, or lazy fly balls.
Starting from a “launch” position (bat angled, back elbow pointed), combined with a looser top-hand grip, would permit Marisnick to both shorten his backswing and accelerate the bat head at contact. Trading his downward swing path for a modified uppercut will keep Marisnick’s swing “on plane” longer. This leads to better timing and will allow his hands to clear, resulting in more power. (It sounds simpler than it is.)
It was because of these concerns over Marisnick’s hitting ability that prevented him from being a 2009 first round draft pick, and the Jays were quick to select him when he fell to the third round. Marisnick was one of just two players to sign out of the Blue Jays’ first five picks, and the Blue Jays were not able to agree with him on his $1 million signing bonus until the signing deadline in mid-August.
As a result, Marisnick got his first action as a Blue Jays prospect in the Jays instructional league rather than with one of their affiliates. Regardless, Baseball America ranked him as the Blue Jays’ sixth-best prospect in their organization at the end of 2009.
The Jays got their first real look at Marisnick is 2010 when they opted to have him open the season with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays, and Marisnick did not disappoint.
In 35 games with the GCL Blue Jays, Marisnick compiled a .287/.373/.459 line including 12 doubles, 13 walks, and 18 strikeouts. He showcased his speed, going 14-for-15 in stolen base attempts, as well as his arm, adding four assists from center field while committing only one error. His impressive showing got him ranked as the fourth-best prospect in the Gulf Coast League by Baseball America, as well as a promotion to Class-A Lansing, skipping a stint with the short-season Auburn Doubledays.
Marisnick continued to showcase his speed with Lansing, going 9-for11 in stolen base attempts, and while the majority of his playing time was in center field, he got a taste of left and right field as well.
His numbers at the plate with Lansing were very different from his numbers in the Gulf Coast League, though. He went 28-for-127 (.220), adding 8 doubles and 2 triples, but was too aggressive at times, walking less and striking out twice as much than when he was in the GCL.
Still, it was Marisnick’s first professional season, and he improved his timing at the plate and getting the ball up off of the ground more when hitting. Baseball America ranked him as the Blue Jays’ tenth-best prospect at the end of 2010, and said that the team is working with him to stay tall and drive through the ball next season.
Expected 2011 Team: Lansing Lugnuts
Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: MLB Everyday CF
Marisnick models his game after his friend, Torii Hunter, an outfielder who also had above-average defensive and baserunning skills when he was drafted and was certain he could hit, but was doubted by some scouts in terms of his offensive potential, just like Marisnick.
Hunter hit just .190 in rookie ball, committing six errors and failing to hit a home run in the process. He also had a mediocre .231/.305/.338 slash line with 8 home runs at Double-A in 1997, but owns a career .275/.332/.471 line across 12 Major League seasons with 9 Gold Gloves, 4 All-Star selections, and 1 Silver Slugger award. I am, by no means, saying that Marisnick is going to be the next Torii Hunter, only that their situations when they were drafted are similar and that it’s important not to put too much stock into Marisnick’s low numbers with Lansing this past season.
Marisnick also draws comparisons to Kansas City Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur a lot, and it exciting to watch him develop with Lansing in 2011.